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Australian Expatriate: Teaching English in Vietnam

Why I Chose to Teach English in Vietnam

By Andrew McGuiness – Teaching English in Vietnam with a 100-hour TESOL Certificate

Most people take up teaching English as a way of supporting themselves while they live in a foreign country, and I was no exception. I had finished my Ph.D. thesis and passed the viva and now I had to make some corrections to it – which mainly meant reading three or four books and vamping up the literature review.

In Australia, I was working as an underpaid furniture removalist and couldn’t find time to work on my thesis corrections. I expected (and still do) to get a research position, but I knew that the lead time on applications meant it would be nine to 12 months before I was able to take one up.

My wife and I were interested in Asia (where it’s possible for a new ESL teacher to get work). We wanted to give our child the experience of living in a different culture while still young. We decided on Vietnam.

TESOL Certification – Teaching English in Vietnam

As we researched the qualifications required to teach English—different countries have different basic requirements—and decided that a 100 hour TESOL online course was the minimum (in terms of hours and cost) that would get me to work. We compared the cost of courses and reviews by people who had undertaken them and OnTESOL came out on top.

We paid for the course and I started sending in assignments. It easy at first and getting harder as the course progressed. There were a couple I had to revise according to comments from the instructor.

We already had tickets for Vietnam and I finished my TESOL certificate in Danang. Vietnam was attractive for both romantic and pragmatic reasons. We both wanted to live in a tropical country. We didn’t have much money and it was viable to live here while looking for a job—in the end, it was a month after we arrived before I started work and another month before I got my first pay.

My wife had had a close Vietnamese friend in high school who remembered the grace and friendliness of her family. We had an impression of the sensuousness of color and smell from the film The Scent of Green Papaya. I was looking forward to being able to afford a beer whenever I wanted one (beer is about 30c a glass here).

Now we’ve been here for four months and will probably leave soon, how did the reality compare to the expectation? One thing is certain: we won’t know how we really feel about our time here until we have left.

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